Vigil held for teen swept away in Pennypack Creek

August 14, 2013 8:36:49 PM PDT
Several dozen people held a vigil Wednesday night for a 16-year-old boy who was swept away Tuesday in the Pennypack Creek.

Search crews resumed the search Wednesday for Sebastien Sanon of Oxford Circle, but found no sign of him.

It has now been well over 24 hours since the teen was swept away in the swollen creek.

Despite that, Sanon's father, Pierre, is not giving up hope his son survived.

"I still have hope he is alive. He's my son. I think we are going to find him alive," Sanon said.

Police were back out in full force Wednesday, searching by land, air, and water.

Action News was there as the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit picked up the search from the Delaware River backtracking to Pennypack Creek.

All, as friends and family continue to hope and pray for the best.

"He was everything," said Sebastien's friend John Wulffen. "He was funny. I don't even know how to explain him."

Family friend Kimleng Ol says the 16-year-old Sanon was as unique a person as she has ever met.

"He was just the sweetest person ever. If I asked him to take out the trash, he would take it. All he wants is something to eat, that's the only thing he asks for," Ol said.

As you would imagine, Sebastien's dad couldn't agree more.

"He's a very nice boy, very kind, very respectful," Pierre Sanon said.

Sanon and three other teens, including his distraught best friend, Wulffen, were riding bikes along the creek in the Holmesburg section of the city around 5:00 p.m. Tuesday when they decided to dip their feet in the water.

"We were all sweaty and hot, and I guess he slipped or something like that," said Wulffen. "And the current took him, and we tried to get him, but it was too late. And we couldn't do anything about it."

Sebastien went under and never resurfaced.

Philadelphia police and firefighters put a chopper in the air and officers along the raging waterway.

"It's beautiful," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan. "It's sunny out. But this is when the water gets dangerous, several hours after a rainstorm of that volume. And that's the mistake in judgment we too often see."

Sebastien's family tells us he was taking classes at Agora Cyber Charter School.

His older sister, Kim, who attends Temple University, says he would hang out at campus events with her. He volunteered, and he had dreams of becoming an astronomer.

John Wulffen's mother rushed to the creek to be by his side and pray for his friend.

"He was very cheerful and joyful," said Johanna Flores. "He was a good kid. He was my son's best friend. I feel for his family. My sorrow goes out to them."

Sebastien's family says he knew how to swim. But officials say he apparently hit his head on a pillar. And not even the strongest of swimmers would be able to handle those fast-moving waters.


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